21 Best Open Source Text Editors (GUI + CLI) in 2019

Text editors can be used for writing code, editing text files such as configuration files, creating user instruction files and many more. In Linux, text editor are of two kinds that is graphical user interface (GUI) and command line text editors (console or terminal).

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In this article I am taking a look at some of the best 21 open source commonly used text editors in Linux on both server and desktops.

1. Vi/Vim Editor

Vim is a powerful command line based text editor that has enhanced the functionalities of the old Unix Vi text editor. It is one the most popular and widely used text editors among System Administrators and programmers that is why many users often refer to it as a programmer’s editor. It enables syntax highlighting when writing code or editing configuration files.

If you want to see our complete series on vi(m), please refer the links below:

  1. Learn and Use Vi/Vim as a Full Text Editor in Linux
  2. Learn ‘Vi/Vim’ Editor Tips and Tricks to Enhance Your Skills
  3. 8 Interesting ‘Vi/Vim’ Editor Tips and Tricks
Vi/Vim Linux Editor

Vi/Vim Linux Editor

2. Gedit

This is a general purpose GUI based text editor and is installed by default text editor on Gnome desktop environment. It is simple to use, highly pluggable and a powerful editor with the following features:

  1. Support for UTF-8
  2. Use of configurable font size and colors
  3. Highly customizable syntax highlighting
  4. Undo and redo functionalities
  5. Reverting of files
  6. Remote editing of files
  7. Search and replace text
  8. Clipboard support functionalities and many more
Gedit Editor

Gedit Editor

3. Nano Editor

Nano is an easy to use text editor especially for both new and advanced Linux users. It enhances usability by providing customizable key binding.

Nano has the following features:

  1. Highly customizable key bindings
  2. Syntax highlighting
  3. Undo and redo options
  4. Full line display on the standard output
  5. Pager support to read form standard input
Nano Editor

Nano Editor

You can check our complete guide for editing files with Nano editor at:

  1. How to Use Nano Editor in Linux

4. GNU Emacs

This is a highly extensible and customizable text editor that also offers interpretation of the Lisp programming language at its core. Different extensions can be added to support text editing functionalities.

Emacs has the following features:

  1. User documentation and tutorials
  2. Syntax highlighting using colors even for plain text.
  3. Unicode supports many natural languages.
  4. Various extension including mail and news, debugger interface, calender and many more
Emacs Editor

Emacs Editor

5. Kate/Kwrite

Kate is a feature rich and highly pluggable text editor that comes with KDesktop Environment (KDE). The Kate project aims at development of two main products that is: KatePart and Kate.

KatePart is an advanced text editor component included in many KDE applications which may require users to edit text whereas Kate is an multiple document interface(MDI) text editor.

The following are some of its general features:

  1. Extensible through scripting
  2. Encoding support such as unicode mode
  3. Text rendering in bi-directional mode
  4. Line ending support with auto detection functionalities

Also remote file editing and many other features including advanced editor features, applications features, programming features, text highlighting features, backup features and search and replace features.

Kate Editor

Kate Editor

6. Lime Text

This is a powerful IDE-like text editor which is free and open-source successor of popular Sublime Text. It has a few frontends such as command-line interface that you can use with the pluggable backend.

Lime Editor

Lime Editor

7. Pico Editor

Pico is also a command line based text editor that comes with the Pine news and email client. It is a good editor for new Linux users because of its simplicity in relation to many GUI text editors.

Pico Editor

Pico Editor

8. Jed Editor

This is also another command line editor with support for GUI like features such as dropdown menus. It is developed purposely for software development and one of its important features is support of unicode mode.

Jed Editor

Jed Editor

9. gVim Editor

It is a GUI version of the popular Vim editor and it has similar functionalities as the command line Vim.

Gvim Editor

Gvim Editor

10. Geany Editor

Geany offers basic IDE-like features with a focus on software development using the GTK+ toolkit.

It has some basic features as listed below:

  1. Syntax highlighting
  2. Pluggable interface
  3. Supports many file types
  4. Enables code folding and code navigation
  5. Symbol name and construct auto-completion
  6. Supports auto-closing of HTML and XML tags
  7. Elementary project management functionality plus many more
Geany Editor

Geany Editor

11. Leaf Pad

This is a GTK+ based, lightweight GUI based text editor which is also popular among Linux users today. It is easy to use by new Linux users.

It has the following features:

  1. Codeset option
  2. Allows auto detection of codeset
  3. Options of undo and redo
  4. Display file line numbers
  5. Supports Drag and Drop options
  6. Printing support
Leafpad Editor

Leafpad Editor

12. Bluefish

Bluefish is an easy-to-install and use text editor targeting Linux programmers and web developers. It offers a wide set of features as listed below:

  1. Lightweight and fast
  2. Integrates external Linux programs such as lint, weblint, make and many others and filters, piping such as sed, sort, awk and many more
  3. Spelling check feature
  4. Supports working on multiple projects
  5. Remote file editing
  6. Search and replace support
  7. Undo and redo option
  8. Auto-recovery of modified files
Bluefish Editor

Bluefish Editor

13. Atom

Atom is a free and open source cross-platform code editor developed by GitHub. It was built to be completely customizable using web technologies such as HTML and JavaScript and it has support for Node.js-based plugins and native Git control.

Atom’s feature highlights include:

  • 100% open source
  • Modern, customizable layout
  • Themes
  • Embedded Git support
  • Real-time collaboration with Telesync
  • Smart auto-complete and intelliSense
  • Built-in package manager
Atom Text Editor

Atom Text Editor

14. VSCode

VSCode is a robust free and open source modern text editor built by Microsoft for Linux, Mac, and Windows computers.

It offers tons of powerful features including:

  • Full debugging capability with an interactive console, breakpoints, call stacks, etc.
  • Built-in Git support with Git commands
  • IntelliSense
  • 100% customizability
  • Support for tons of languages straight out of the box
  • Toggable layouts
  • Built-in terminal
Visual Studio Code

Visual Studio Code

15. Light Table

Light Table is a powerful, clutter-free cross-platform text editor built to be customizable enough to be used in any that its user chooses.

Light Table’s features include:

  • Inline evaluation
  • Real-time watches
  • Free and open source
  • Plugin manager
  • Powerful editing
Light Table Code Editor

Light Table Code Editor

16. Medit Text Editor

medit is a lightweight open source text editor for Mac, Linux, and Windows. It originally started as a simple built-in component of GGAP editor and is now its own stand-alone text editor.

medit’s features include:

  • Customizable syntax highlighting
  • Support for plugins written in Python, C, or Lua
  • Support for regular expressions
  • Configurable keyboard accelerators
Media Text Editor

Media Text Editor

17. Neovim – Vim-based Text Editor

Neovim is a hyperextensible vim-based text editor with a focus on usability and function extensibility. It was forked from the popular Vim editor in order to aggressively refactor its functionality and usability with modern GUIs, asynchronous job control, etc.

Neovim’s feature highlights include:

  • Free and open source license
  • Support for XDG base directories
  • Compatibility with most Vim plugins
  • A embedded, configurable terminal emulator
Neovim - Vim-based Text Editor

Neovim – Vim-based Text Editor

18. Notepad++

Notepad++ is a customizable text editor built with a focus on speed and minimal program size for Windows platforms. It is developed based on Scintilla text editor and can have its functionality extended with tons of plugins.

Its features include:

  • Tabbed editing
  • Code folding
  • Bookmark support
  • Document map
  • Perl Compatible Regular Expression
Notepad++ Source Code Editor

Notepad++ Source Code Editor

Read Also: 11 Best Notepad++ Alternatives For Linux

19. Kakoune Code Editor

Kakoune is a free and open source Vim-based modal text editor with an editing model that implements Vi’s keystrokes as a text editing language.

It has several features among which are:

  • Auto-indentation
  • Case manipulation
  • Piping each selection to external filter
  • Hooks
  • Syntax highlighting
  • Customization
  • Multiple selections
Kakoune Code Editor

Kakoune Code Editor

20. Micro – Terminal-based Text Editor

Micro is a command line-based text editor built to be easy and intuitive enough for users to take advantage of the features in other terminal-based text editors without the steep learning curve.

Micro’s feature hightlights include:

  • Mouse support
  • Multiple cursors
  • Terminal emulation
  • High customizability
  • Plugin system
  • Static library with no dependencies
Micro Terminal Text Editor

Micro Terminal Text Editor

21. Brackets Text Editor

Brackets is a modern free and open source code editor created by Adobe with a focus on web development. It is written in HTML, CSS, and JavaScript to offer web developers with a rich code editing experience with the ability to extend its native features using several free extensions.

Brackets features include:

  • A beautiful User Interface
  • Preprocessor support for SCSS and LESS
  • Inline editors
  • Live preview
  • Multiple tabbed editing
  • PHP support
  • Supports Language Server Protocol
  • Support for plugin extensions
Brackets Text Editor

Brackets Text Editor

Concluding

I believe the list is more than what we have looked at, therefore if you have used other free and open source text editors, let us know by posting a comment. Thanks for reading and always stay connected to Tecmint.

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Aaron Kili

Aaron Kili is a Linux and F.O.S.S enthusiast, an upcoming Linux SysAdmin, web developer, and currently a content creator for TecMint who loves working with computers and strongly believes in sharing knowledge.

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21 Responses

  1. Anders says:

    Wily are a Unix/Linux version of Plan 9 editor Acme. And like vi is based on ed, Acme (and Wily) are based on a line editor Sam commands. Fully UTF-8 based and a small memory footprint.

    A handful built in commands and buffers arranged in columns, and columns in rows. And with mouse chords, you can expand with pushing text through Linux filters/shell scripts and inspired by Oberon.

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wily
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Acme_(text_editor)
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Oberon_(operating_system)

  2. ben says:

    Please consider adding these editors as well : Atom, Brackets, LightTable and Visual Studio Code. All are free and open source. I particularly like VS Code.

  3. Jimmy Gza says:

    You missed atom!! https://atom.io/

  4. Francis Kim says:

    Lime Text?! Gotta try that out. I currently use Sublime Text 3, WebStorm and PHPStorm.

  5. Aaron Kili K says:

    @Kaqqoa
    The list is always endless, it is good to mention to us any other text editors you have used.

  6. Kaqqao says:

    I was really hoping to see some editors that I haven’t known about forever…

  7. Kees says:

    I have used JED a lot in the past as a Emacs clone with a small footprint, good to see it in your article.
    I now use jEdit http://jedit.org/ most of the time, cross platform and Open Source.

  8. Simon Lees says:

    I’ve been favouring the Qt based Eric for the last few months though it’s primarily focused on python there is alot of languages it handles well. You also missed the big new open source editor of the year atom

  9. Bruno says:

    Sublime Text, Light Table, Medit, Atom, etc…

  10. Alex says:

    I use Sublime Text, which is very similar to Lime Text. Site : https://www.sublimetext.com/

    Best regards

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